Markey concerned over Disney plan to track kids with bracelets

by Brendan Sasso, The Hill

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) expressed concern over Disney’s plan to track guests at its theme parks using bracelets called "MagicBands."

In a letter to Disney CEO Robert Iger, Markey, the co-chairman of the congressional privacy caucus, worried that the plan could "have a harmful impact on our children."

Customers have the option to wear the bracelets, which are part of Disney’s new park management system, called "MyMagic+."

The bracelet can serve as a credit card, room key and park ticket and can alert customers when they can get on a ride without standing in line. As detailed in a New York Times article earlier this month, Disney can use the bands to track a customer’s location, determining which attractions she visits, what food she buys, how long she stands in line and other information.

Customers can choose to provide Disney with more personal information, which the park will use to provide a more customized experience, such as Disney characters greeting the child by name.

"Although kids should have the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, this memorable meeting should not be manipulated through surreptitious use of a child’s personal information," Markey wrote.

Markey asked Disney to detail the kinds of information it plans to collect and how guests can protect their information. He asked whether Disney will create profiles of customers, use the information for advertisements or sell the information to other companies. He asked how long Disney will store the information and whether customers will be allowed to delete the information collected about them.

In an emailed statement, Angela Bliss, a Disney spokeswoman, emphasized that the MyMagic+ program is completely optional.

"Disney’s privacy policies and practices are fully transparent and guests can choose whether or not to participate in MyMagic+. In addition, guests control whether their personal information is used for promotional purposes and no data collected is ever used to market to children," she said.

She added the program is designed to make the theme park "more personalized, seamless and customized than ever before."

Markey was one of the authors of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a 1998 law restricting the ability of websites to collect personal information from children. The Federal Trade Commission released an update to the law last month.